To ring in the winter season some friends of ours invited us on a hut trip. Of course we accepted the invitation. With December just days away and ski season in, uh, swing, I think everyone’s ready for some fun winter activities, right?
The only problem is that we need snow. That would definitely up the fun factor for the trip and eliminate the brown glaze possessing the town and surrounding mountains at the moment. Even the boots in my closet are jonesing for some action.
The waivers were signed and monies paid so despite the lack of abundant white stuff, as hut trips go, we went anyway. With wishful thinking on our side we thought perhaps there might even be more snow near the hut.
I would call myself a hut trip novice at best and realize there are still oodles of lingo and experience to pick up. I didn’t go on my first one until two years ago. If you’ve lived here for any length of time and haven’t tried one I highly recommend it.
The beauty of a hut trip is not unlike the beauty of a river trip. It’s a chance to see nature in its splendor. The trip consists of a small group of folk. Meals are planned, games are played and bags of wine and other booze entertain the cluster, in addition to the activity that brought them to the camp, or in this case, the hut.
We didn’t think we’d be doing much downhill skiing this time around, but held out hope for a cross-country touring endeavor.
The only problem this year, as we all know, wasn’t a white-out, avalanche-inducing blizzard. It was the severe lack of snow. So in lieu of stuffing everything into a large pack and towing items by sled, we sent up a support vehicle and hiked. That’s not supposed to be how a hut trip rolls, in the winter.
You see, Mother Nature generally brings you water in the form of snow. But there wasn’t much of that so water had to be carried from as close to the hut as we were allowed by truck.
We were more or less hut bound so we made the most of it. Despite water being the first item brought in, it was probably the last beverage consumed. With the sun shining on a beautiful deck and friends who brought a bevy of “bevies,” the afternoon activity was subconsciously chosen. “Beer here!”
Sometimes you have to make lemonade in life. And with no turns, adult beverages seemed to be the natural choice.
For newcomers to a hut, one might ask, “what will you do out there, in the middle of nowhere?” Entertain yourself of course, that’s what. When there wasn’t booze, there were card games and magazines. Sitting around reading trashy magazines on Gen. Petraeus, Jill Kelley and Paula Broadwell almost prompted the creation of a flow chart. Who said we weren’t using our time wisely?
When we finally ventured outside, my husband and I decided to head to the top of Taylor Pass on foot.
The conditions were that of an early June thaw in the high country. Nowhere near what late November should look like. But you already knew that. When we hiked to the top of Taylor Pass and looked over to Crested Butte, we saw that they didn’t have any snow either. Misery loves company I suppose.
We followed four-wheel drive tracks most of the way and eventually snow was consistently underfoot. We came upon sled tracks and Ritz crackers near 11,000 feet and deduced that an 8-year-old had recently gone sledding in that very spot. Nancy Drew has nothing on me.
The tracks got more wild and interesting after that. Paw prints with no claws, the retractable kind to be exact. I almost let fear turn me back to the hut, but I figured a mountain lion wouldn’t bother me and my husband.
Evenings in a hut are cozy. And with more evening kibitzing, eating and drinking, the only thing left to do is sleep. I always forget the benefits of being the first to bed in a hut until I’m the last to go to sleep. The serenade to slumber generally includes the inevitable snorer and, of course, the releasing of flatulence in a rather off key. Basically, if you’re a light sleeper, someone will let one rip so hard that it’ll rudely awaken your rest, like it did to me.
Oh the joys of hut living!
I think we all need patience at this point. Snow is sure to come, but we’ll have to make a few more batches of lemonade in the meantime. Don’t cancel your hut trip, but relish in the time away and enjoy the peace and almost quiet of the high country.
Beth is praying for snow and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org